Locking Up Our Families is NOT the Solution!

Locking Up Our Families is NOT the Solution!

Pence, Trump, and Sessions have spent the last year and a half using their power to further engrain white supremacy into the trenches of our nation. They use the rhetoric of “Law and Order” to tear families apart and criminalize migrants, asylum seekers, and Black and Brown people. By eroding protections for our people like DACA & TPS, allowing ICE agents to enact dangerous raids with impunity as well as criminalizing migration and asylum seekers, we are experiencing the oppression and devastation of our community at an unprecedented level not seen in decades.

Detaining families together is not a valid solution to family separation. People seeking refuge do not deserve to be met with chain link fences and trauma. Children should not be growing up in jail cells. We need to expand the scope of our outrage to include the inhumanity of the detention of thousands of immigrants all over the country. The emotional and physical violence inflicted on our families by the U.S. is irreparable, and to then further rob them of their freedom is revolting at best.

We have seen the effects of this in the streets of Philadelphia, where almost 50 people were disappeared in one week last month as a result of dangerous ICE raids, leaving many Philadelphia children separated from their families. Families are ripped apart right here and in the wake of so much injustice, it is more important than ever that we enact local change. It is time for us to shut down the Berks Family Detention Center and free our families that have been detained indefinitely right outside of Philadelphia. It is time for us to expand the meaning of sanctuary and make sure we are a true Sanctuary City by ending the dangerous P.A.R.S. contract with ICE as well as ending data sharing with them.

We must take action now to create tangible change for our people and create a precedent for this country to combat the brutality it has inflicted. If we continue to simply demand that families belong together, we will easily see the ballooning of more family detention centers like Berks Family Detention Center and mass incarceration. We can do better, at the border and in Philadelphia, to put an end to this nightmare.

Immigrants to ICE: Show Us Your Papers

Immigrants to ICE: Show Us Your Papers

As Part of National Challenge to Trump’s Deportation Force, Pennsylvanians to Press ICE’s Corruption and Impunity into Public Eye

Today, Juntos along with multiple Pennsylvania based organizations and individuals have filed FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) requests at the Philadelphia ICE Field Office in wake of rumors of massive national raids slated to begin on September 16th with the goal of detaining over 10,000 people across the country. This massive raid has been dubbed by ICE “Operation Mega”

Across the country, immigrant communities are filing FOIA requests demanding details regarding the planning and execution of Operation Mega and all enforcement activities as well as the procedures for targeting and capturing individuals agents encounter.

Since the election and under the direction of Tom Homan at Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Jeff Sessions at the Department of Justice, Trump’s deportation force has become unchained and acting with impunity. With rumors circulating of massive raids planned by the agency, advocates plan to monitor the agency’s activity and force its corruption into public view.

In Philadelphia, our “Sanctuary City” policy prohibits local police from acting as federal immigration agents. Unfortunately, we know that the deportation machine knows no bounds and ICE has begun using other methods to gain access to our community such as waiting for people outside of our courts, detaining people in our probation offices, using portable fingerprint machines and doing illegal traffic stops.

The Trump administration has let loose an unaccountable agency against our people. The recent announcement of Operation Mega is the latest in a list of rogue tactics aimed at our community. Since the federal government isn’t checking their corruption, we are filing FOIAs locally and across the country to begin to monitor it and bring it to light.” Said Erika Almiron, Executive Director of Juntos.

The list of organizations and individuals who signed on to the FOIA request locally are as follows:

Individuals:
Philadelphia Councilwoman Maria Quiñones-Sánchez
Erika Almiron, Juntos
Abel Rodriguez, Cabrini University
Candace McKinley, Black Lives Matter Philadelphia
Jasmine Rivera, Community Activist
Maria Sotomayor, PA Immigrant & Citizenship Coalition
Peter Pedemonti, New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia
Troy Turner, Make The Road PA

Organizations:
Juntos
Asian Americans United
Black Live Matter Philadelphia
CASA
Casa San Jose
Casa Dominicana de Hazleton
Caucus of Working Educators
Center on Immigration at Cabrini University
Esperanza
Free Migration Project
GALAEI
Global Women’s Strike
Grupo de Apoyo e Integración Hispanoamericano
HIAS PA
Hispanic Clergy of Philadelphia
Make the Road PA
New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia
Payday Men’s Network
Philadelphia Red Umbrella Alliance
Philadelphia Federation of Teachers
Philadelphia Student Union
Pennsylvania Immigrant & Citizenship Coalition (PICC)
Philadelphia Organized to Witness, Empower & Rebuild (POWER)
Reclaim Philadelphia
SEIU 32BJ
Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network (UUPLAN)
UNITE HERE Local 274
Up Against The Law
Vietlead
Women of Color In The Global Women’s Strike
Youth Art & Self-Empowerment Project (YASP)

Berks Family Detention Center’s License Revoked

Blogpost Berks Press Release

Berks Family Detention Center’s License Revoked

Pennsylvania – On January 27th Pennsylvania Department of Human Services (PA DHS) issued notice that the licensing of the Berks County Family Detention Center (BCRC) would not be renewed and officially revoked, potentially ending family detention in Pennsylvania.

The Shut Down Berks Coalition hails this action as a victory for the state and the country against the horrible abuse and rights violations immigrant families have been subjected to for far too long. The state license will be revoked as of February 21st of 2016 and in the meantime Berks County has the right to appeal. Many in the coalition wonder how Berks county, a county already in fiscal crisis, can find it in their budget to spend on a legal process given that nationally family detention has already been determined unconstitutional.

Nationally, many groups hailed the response as a step in the right direction as well and as a sign that family detention is finally ending.

Community Reactions

“ICE has been operating the center already in violation of federal law with some families being detained again for months at a time and now without a state license they will be in violation of state law.  Therefore, we demand the release of the families detained in Berks immediately, they should not endure one more day in unjust detention.” said Erika Almiron, Executive Director of Juntos.

“Revoking this license is an important first step towards closing this detention center, and, we hope, a step toward ending family detention here in Pennsylvania and nationally,” said Executive Director of PICC, Sundrop Carter.

Adanjesus Marin, Executive Director of Make the Road PA said, “As residents of Berks County we are thankful that DHS has confirmed what we always knew- that this center is unjust and should be shut down. We call on our county commissioners to stop stalling and take immediate action to stop jailing families.”

Miguel Andrade, Vice-President of the Board of Directors of GALAEI in Philadelphia said, “The news that PA DHS will revoke the Berks County Family Detention Center’s license is a monumental victory not only for the immigrant community of our state, but for the millions of immigrant families across this country. Just this past summer ICE was hailing Berks as a model detention center and were looking to it as an example for Trans and LGBQ detention. We in GALAEI stand firmly against any and all detention and see that what is happening in our state has the potential to have a domino effect nationwide and it gives us hope that one day we can end all detentions and deportations that tear apart our communities.”
“The State of Pennsylvania sent a strong message today that immigration detention facilities are no place for children, especially those that have suffered trauma,” said Wendy Cervantes, Director of the First Focus Center for Children of Immigrants. “We know that even a short amount of time in detention can have a long-term impact on a child’s mental health and overall development. All children deserve to be in an environment where they can be free to play, learn and thrive, not behind bars with the government watching their every move and rationing their food and playtime.”

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The Shut Down Berks Campaign is a grassroots coalition fighting to shut down the Berks County Detention Center immediately and end family detention. Members include Detention Watch Network, GALAEI, Juntos, #Not1More, Make the Road PA, Migrant Power Movement, PICC, UUPlan and We Belong Together.

Mayor Nutter Prioritizes Politics Over Immigrant Communities

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Mayor Nutter with Juntos member Maria Elena Cardenas in City Hall, a mother of two who had just lost her husband Pablo to a deportation just days before.

Mayor Nutter Prioritizes Politics Over Immigrant Communities

November 20th, 2015 will mark the one year anniversary of Obama’s announcement on immigration in which he created Deferred Action for Parents of American Citizens (DAPA). Despite the promise of relief from deportations for millions of families, the attack on immigrants continues. This last year has brought not only disappointment and continued deportations, but hate mongering from Presidential hopefuls that inspired anti-immigrant bills in Congress and in Harrisburg. In Pennsylvania, we have also seen the prolonged, unjust and inhumane detention of families in the Berks Family Detention Center where infants have been detained as young as 11 days old with an unlawful license and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) continues to terrorize our communities in Philadelphia and across the state.

On Thursday, November 12th, the Nutter Administration held a closed door meeting with Philadelphia immigrant rights organizations, including the Philadelphia Family Unity Network, in regards to the City’s collaboration with ICE. The Administration announced that it intends to roll back the historic Executive Order limiting City interactions with ICE, passed on April 2014, by introducing provisions that re-establish these communications.

Members of the immigrant community, the Philadelphia Family Unity Network, the Shut Down Berks Coalition and allies will be holding a press conference Monday, November 16th at 11am at City Hall to address this latest development as well as the state and national anti-immigrant attacks.

We are heartbroken that the Nutter Administration wants to reverse this groundbreaking policy and once again use local law enforcement as an arm of the federal deportation system. The proposed changes will increase the number of deportations of Philadelphia residents and will erode the trust building begun between immigrant communities and local law enforcement since the Executive Order was signed and implemented. What community members will hear is that the administration has gone back on their word and that local law enforcement will once again serve as immigration agents. These proposed provisions also contradict our City’s values of honoring the dignity of each individual, redemption, second chances, and the ability of human beings to change, by subjecting Philadelphia residents to double punishment by deporting them after they have served their time. Mayor Nutter must listen to immigrant communities, advocates, and allies, and stand strong in his support for a policy that has made our communities safer.

Only seven months ago, Nutter stood with community in City Hall, and after listening to the story of Maria Elena Cardenas, a mother of two who had just lost her husband Pablo to a deportation just days before, said, “I can’t imagine that a real elected official, someone who really believes in public service, would think that it was good policy to rip a family apart. Somehow, some way, at least to me, that appears to be completely in contradiction to this great country that we all love called the United States of America. We still have work to do.”

A month later the city made it clear it had no intention of resuming cooperation with ICE requests. In an interview with the LA Times, City Managing Director Richard Negrin said, “The broader Latino community loses confidence when they see us treating new Philadelphians that way, I think it makes us less safe (to cooperate with ICE), to be honest.”

We need public officials at the local, state and national level that will take a stand against hate toward immigrants and towards people of color. We must stand together to stop the criminalization, detention and deportation of our communities.

The Philadelphia Family United Network members include 1Love Movement, Juntos, New Sanctuary Movement of Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Immigration and Citizenship Coalition and Victim/Witness Services of South Philadelphia.
The Shut Down Berks Campaign is a grassroots coalition fighting to shut down the Berks County Detention Center immediately and end family detention. Members include Detention Watch Network, GALAEI, Juntos, #Not1More, Migrant Power Movement, PICC, UUPlan and We Belong Together.